Rangers waiting, watching for right trade as deadline nears

Posted Sunday, Jul. 24, 2011  comments  Print Reprints

Trade targets?

RHP Heath Bell, Padres: The All-Star closer is a free agent after the season, and San Diego won't be able to re-sign him. So, he's available and willing to accept a role as a set-up man with a contender. He has even identified the Rangers as a potential landing spot.

RHP Mike Adams, Padres: Seen by the Padres as the pitcher who will replace Bell at closer, Adams isn't going to be cheap. He can't be a free agent until the 2013 season, one reason the Padres will want more for him. San Diego, though, isn't in a position to make anyone untouchable.

RHP Leo Nunez, Marlins: Another player who won't be a free agent until 2013, Nunez has regained confidence in his slider and been effective this season. Florida has Greg Dobbs and Wes Helms holding down third base. Chris Davis would be an upgrade.

RHP Tyler Clippard, Nationals: The All-Star gets outs with a low-90s fastball, a changeup, and a funky delivery and arm angle. Washington wants a center fielder and leadoff man. Julio Borbon had drawn interest before his ankle injury. Injured players, though, can be traded.

RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies: Colorado isn't looking to trade its ace but is listening to offers. He would be an upgrade, but the Rockies would insist upon the Rangers' top prospects. The Rangers would have to be convinced that Jimenez would get them back to the World Series.

Trade bait?

LHP Martin Perez: He's the Rangers' top prospect, and as close to untouchable as a prospect can come. Teams seeking Perez, playing at Triple A Round Rock, in a trade had better come with something enticing. He's not going to be in any package for a reliever.

SS Jurickson Profar: He's No. 1a on the untouchable list. At 18, he wowed scouts at the Futures Game and is wowing the South Atlantic League. The switch hitter is hitting .283, slugging .517 and playing plus defense at a premium position for Class A Hickory.

3B Chris Davis: Despite his ups and downs, the Rangers still believe that Davis will be a productive everyday big-leaguer. He's athletic, has plus power and is an adequate player at third base, which isn't exactly the deepest position in baseball right now.

OF David Murphy: Part of the Rangers' plan for success in 2007 was to supply the organization with depth. Murphy is part of that. The Rangers believe Murphy can play every day, and so does he. Trading him now would be risky, as the outfield depth has thinned some.

CF Julio Borbon: He's out until September after left-ankle surgery, which hurts his trade value but doesn't make a deal for him impossible. As they do Davis and Murphy, the Rangers consider Borbon to be an everyday player. But Leonys Martin looks to be the future in center.

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ARLINGTON -- The phone lines are open, and have been for a while, as the Texas Rangers look to upgrade their roster before the non-waiver trade deadline arrives Sunday afternoon.

A right-handed reliever is the primary target. No starter is reasonably available whom the Rangers believe is better than any of the five currently in their rotation. A bat at this point is seen purely as a luxury item.

General manager Jon Daniels and his staff know that it's only Monday. Prices too high today are likely to come down by the weekend, especially for players who will be free agents after the season.

The consensus opinion is that the Rangers' farm system is more stocked today than it has been at any other time the past five years. Prospects are available for any deal.

Ownership hasn't given Daniels a blank check, but Bob Simpson, Ray Davis and Co. have shown a willingness to add to the budget for the right deal.

None of that, though, means that a trade will be found. The Rangers aren't yet close to completing a deal, and they have accepted that the annual deadline might pass without anything getting done.

"Right now, there's nothing that we're sitting on, deciding if we should do it or not," Daniels said. "There's nothing close."

Depending on the newspaper, website or Twitter feed, the Rangers were linked to Heath Bell, Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Beltran on Sunday morning. Bell is the most realistic of that group.

Bell is San Diego's closer but willing to pitch the eighth inning for a contender. He would move into a setup role for Neftali Feliz, allowing the Rangers to shorten a starter's game to seven innings, and could close on days when Feliz isn't available.

Though an All-Star, Bell probably won't cost the Rangers as much in terms of prospects because he is a free agent next year. His Padres teammate, Mike Adams, has also been scouted by the Rangers but can't become a free agent until after next season.

That makes his price go up. Florida closer Leo Nunez is also under club control for one more season, but the Marlins' farm system is barren to the point that they would take fewer prospects and ones who don't rate as the Rangers' best.

Top prospects Martin Perez and Jurickson Profar are coveted by all teams but are as close to untouchable as players can be.

Some teams have inquired about Leonys Martin, the Cuban defector who signed a big league contract in May. Considering the circumstances, though, most teams understand he's all but untouchable, too.

Then, there are Chris Davis, David Murphy and Julio Borbon, who can be traded despite being on the disabled list at Triple A Round Rock. All three, say the Rangers, can be everyday big leaguers, but all three are blocked from meaningful playing time.

Clubs are inquiring about what's available when the Rangers call about a trade. They have less than a week to sort things out before the deadline arrives Sunday afternoon.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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